Intro: I know you have all seen this familiar scene. Someone has experienced a life-changing or even traumatic event (a tornado just swept away their mobile home, survived a plane crash, just caught the winning pass in the Super Bowl, won the lottery, etc.) The news crews are on the scene. The cameras are rolling as the slick news reporter walks up to the person and sticks the microphone in their face and asks… What was going through your head when that happened? What were you thinking?
That is the unknown factor. We might be able to put together what happened to the person, but how can we know what he was thinking unless he tells us? The person’s thoughts might also be the most fascinating element of the event.
Would you like to know what Noah was thinking when God told him to build an ark? Daniel was thrown to the lions; Joshua when the walls of Jericho fell down flat? If you could ask that question where would you take your microphone in biblical history? How about to the cross.
- Would you ask Jesus what ran through His mind when he was unjustly arrested in the garden on the middle of the night?
- what He was thinking about on the road to Golgotha carry his own cross?
- What was on His mind when the cold metal stakes were being driven into His hands?
- What was He thinking about? He was thinking about you! Let that sink in as you turn to Phil. 2
Phil 2:5-8 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Tracing the steps of Jesus’ self- humiliation: In these words Paul traces the condescension of Jesus.
- Although equal with God (existing in the form of God)
- He did not seek to hold on to the privileges of divinity (did not consider it a thing to be grasped)
- So He became fully a human, with all its weaknesses (made Himself of no reputation),
- Not just any man, but the lowest of men, He became a slave (taking the form of a slave)
- Experiencing the full measure of human frailty (likeness of men) , He was viewed by others to be just a human (found in the appearance as a man)
He humbled Himself…It is impossible for us to comprehend or relate to Jesus’ journey of humiliation.
- We certainly cannot begin where he began or claim to ever own what He was willing to lay aside.
- From God, the Creator… to man, the slave.
- From Sin-free heaven… to sin-filled earth.
- From the praise and adoration of angels.. to the reviling and hatred of men
- From the elevated throne of the Ruler of the universe… to a life of a bondservant
- From the position of the holy God, Who cannot be tempted with evil… to a body of human flesh, that provides access to the schemes and seductions of Satan himself.
Up to this point, all that Paul has catalogued in these verses concerning the descent of Jesus depicts… But the apostle is not finished. How far does Jesus go in this journey of self-humiliation? – He “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (v. 8)
I. The Destination of Jesus’ Self-Humiliation – The point of death. The death of Jesus on a Roman cross was not just a human injustice or even an honorable martyrdom. It was the completion of a divine plan.
• John 19:30 – So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John gives us two interesting insights into this event in this one verse.
1. Jesus gave up His spirit – no one took it from Him. He died when He was ready to die.
2. When He died something was finished. – completed. Jesus death was part of a plan. His death did not cut short his plans (like ours will) but it completed His plan.
A. God foretold this specific crucifixion in Isaiah 53:7-9– He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
1. But the O.T. description went beyond just the fact of His death. It revealed the purpose of God in this event. Isa 53:6– All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. V. 10 – Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. V. 12 – Because He poured out His soul unto death,
2. Despite this prophetic picture of the coming Messiah, Jesus’ own disciples did not expect Him to die: Matt 16:21-23 – “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
3. Satan attempted to sidetrack Jesus from His journey of self-humiliation and death.
a. In Matthew 4, the Devil came to Him in the midst of his human experience and tempted Him to use His divine prerogative to satisfy His needs – turn these stones into bread; Jesus refused, choosing to live by the words of God.
b. Then Satan tempted Him to compel His Father to use the divine prerogative to come to His aid – throw yourself down, He will lift you up. Jesus chose to submit to the plan and not tempt God.
c. Lastly, Satan tempted Jesus to rebel outright and worship him and He would give Him all he sought. Jesus drove Satan away with the words of an obedient servant – Worship God and Him alone. Jesus never wavered from the divine appointment. He never contemplated his cross apart from its spiritual significance. John 12:27-34 – “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”
4. If dying was the plan, then Jesus followed the plan all the way. Paul says it this way… He became obedient to the point of death. It should strike us that Jesus’ choices are described in these words. How can God be obedient? To whom is He subject? Jesus chose to go to Calvary in full obedience to the will of His Father. “Not my will but your will be done” are the words of an obedient servant. John 10:17-18 – 17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
II. “Even the death of the cross” – Jesus did not die peacefully in His sleep, or drop to the ground with a sudden heart attack. Paul’s description of Jesus’ journey downward hits bottom here in these words. Even the ruthless Romans did not crucify every criminal; only the worst of the worst. It was the chosen method of executing a rebellious slave or a treasonous rebel.
A. 1 Cor 1:21-24 – For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. The gospel message that brings salvation is the story of a crucifixion. Christ is not our Savior unless He is crucified. Paul says there who have stumbled over that fact that Jesus died on a Roman cross.
1. The word translated stumbling block here is scandalon, from which we get our English word scandal. When we think of a scandal we often think of a juicy story about some secret someone has been keeping that will damage his reputation. The word denotes something that impedes the progress of a person. Vines says… “In NT skandalon is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way.” It described an unexpected event (aroused prejudice), and thus tripped over. ex: A local preacher is caught in a pornography sting. That is scandalous. It is not just a juicy story, but it goes against what we would expect and certainly will impede his progress.
a. We have noted that Jesus’ impending death was not anticipated by even the disciples. But the cross pictures more. Crucifixion was a scandalous way to die. Our perception of a cross is a sanitized version. It is purely a positive religious symbol to us, and we put one on our buildings and wear them around our necks. But to the people of Jesus’ day it was an instrument of inhuman torture and despicable death. We have never seen anyone crucified.
• ex: there is a true story that illustrates this point. The filming of a picture entitled The Handmaiden’s Tale, took place on the campus Duke University. There was a particular scene utilizing Duke Chapel as a backdrop (large gothic Cathedral). One of the scenes involved the use of a gallows. It was set up and remained in front of the cathedral for several weeks. Some students and parishioners complained. It was offensive to them. It conjured up mental images of people as they swinging and squirming from a rope. The Director insightfully answered the complainers by asking why they were offended by the presence of a gallows, when there had always been a large cross prominently displayed in front of the Cathedral. People are still hung for their crimes, but there are no crucifixions, so we have been able to sanitize the cross.
B. But the scandal of Jesus’ cross goes beyond the cruelty. Paul alludes to the stigma of Jesus’ death in Gal. 3:13 – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), Jesus viewed on the cross (hanging on a tree) was a picture of one who was cursed. Cursed by God and man, as one who was getting what He deserved. The OT statement in Deut. 21:23 called for the removal of the body of an executed criminal before the sundown, so as not to defile the land. If he deserved to be hung on a tree he was the type of criminal that would defile the land – cursed of God.
1. So when we see Jesus on the cross, the image says something about Him. Consider Isaiah’s statement in Isa. 53:4 – Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. Even though He was doing this for others (carrying our sorrows ) we esteemed Him stricken and afflicted by God. How could Jesus hanging on the cross be seen as anything other than a criminal?
2. Even among those who did not have the words of Deut. 21 about the curse on one upon a tree, the cross made no sense. How can one argue that Jesus is God and the Savior of the world while watching Him die on a Roman cross? ex. – Ralph Walker says that this is illustrated by someone telling you that possums are invincible. REALLY? There is ample evidence that seems to say they are not. The presence of dead possums on the side of the road may say some things about possums, but not that they are invincible. I do believe that Jesus is God, and is at the right hand of God through resurrection, but I also believe that He was dead for 3 days!
III. What was Jesus Thinking? He did not defend himself or His honor all the way the death on a Roman cross. When Jesus was in a position to stand up for himself, he had a different mind. When He was tempted to put His legitimate needs at the front, He had a different mind. So He did not act like any of us. He understood the value of His submission, not for His sake, but ours. So He allowed them to arrest Him, to mock Him, and beat Him. He let them drive spikes through His wrists and ankles. He allowed them to kill Him. And we know why. Even though they did not know what was happening on that day, Jesus did. He was serving us, accounting us more important than Himself.
A. What does the mind of Christ look like among us? It will be noticed today, just as it was then. It is uncompromisingly different than the mind of the world around us.
1. Selfless – First, a Christian with the mind of Christ is no longer consumed with self. Jesus’ mind tells me that it is not all about me. Those who seek to follow God so they can get everything they want are not of the mind of Christ. A Gospel that promotes itself by promising people wealth and prestige is not the Gospel of Jesus. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
2. Surrendered – Second, a Christian with the mind of Christ completely surrenders to the will of God. Jesus’ decisive selfless thinking led Him to surrender to God’s will above all else. His single agenda was to be obedience. Those who claim to have the mind of Christ and balk at obedience to the words of God are fooling themselves.
3. Serving others – a Christian with the mind of Christ will serve the needs of others. Aren’t you glad that, when it came time for the cross, Jesus was focused on us, that He put our concerns before His own? We appreciate Jesus’ mind and choice, but do we make the same one? Paul had been able to teach the mind of Christ to others, who in turn filled his needs.
a. Timothy: Phil 2:19-21 – But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
b. Epaphroditus: Phil 2:25-30 – Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
Conclusion: The mind of Christ changes everything. It has changed the world that now is, and for those who put it on, it changes the world to come. How will you respond to the sacrifice and love of Jesus? Will you obey Him?